U’s 1-3 Norwich Friendly Thoughts

The pitch was ready, the floodlights on, the thirty new beer pumps eagerly waiting to dispense their fizzy wares to the Amber hoard. All that was missing was George Williams.

Norwich came to town to play the inaugural “Wes Hoolahan Appreciation Match“, and put out a strong team featuring a number of the players that had fought so hard to stay in the Premiership last season. United lined up in what we expect to be more-or-less the same XI that will face MK Dons on the opening day.

That meant Dimi in goal, with Haunstrup on the left of Jones and Okedina. Mamadou Jobe stood in at right back as George Williams was ill, but this gives you an idea of what Bonner’s first choice defence is going to be. In the middle Digby and May held the central spots, with Smith and Brophy out wide, supporting Lankester in the middle, behind Big Joe up top.

Despite the 35 degree heat the game was fairly intense, United looking like more than a match for their Championship opponents. Both teams had chances, but it was the U’s who looked the more dangerous and creative, with everyone putting in assured performances. The only sour note was the injury to Jobe which saw the youngster leave the pitch on a stretcher after just 15 minutes, to be replaced by Joe Tarpey.

It was Smith, playing out of his skin (and hopefully not trying to put himself in the shop window) who broke the deadlock heading in an Adam May corner just before half time.

At the break Norwich made a number of changes but Bonner stuck firm, and United continued to impress and nearly doubled the lead after Joe Ironside had a clear shot saved by their keeper. On the hour mark Norwich capitalised on a U’s error to equalise, and following this we made ten changes, only Joe Tarpey keeping his place on the pitch as Mannion, Taylor, Ibsen Rossi, Dunk, Simper, O’Neil, Knibbs, Tracey, Janneh and Yearn came on.

After the changes the second-string U’s never really imposed themselves on the game, against another strong Norwich side, and it was another United error which gifted the Canaries their next goal, before they added a third shortly after. Of the subs Janneh looks like quite a lively player, enjoying some great tussles with his marker, and Ibsen Rossi put in a fairly good showing for someone who won’t have had much time to train with the squad.

Off the pitch there were a couple of teething issues with some of the catering outlets around the ground, and at one point the scoreboard showed the score as 4-1, but as this is a new catering firm taking over this season we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. The club have assured us that they’ll be looking into these issues, and they’ve got another chance to iron out any difficulties on Saturday when we take on Hull.

It’s hard to take anything from pre-season friendlies, especially ones played in Tropical heat, but Bonner’s first XI put in a really good showing against quality opposition. We won’t dwell too much on the errors and trust the players concerned to cut these out in good time. It’s going to be another rollercoaster season for sure, and even though we’re not favourites for the drop this time we still need to be mindful of becoming complacent. On this showing (for the first 60 minutes at least) we should have enough about us to survive a second season at this level.

Man of The Match: Brophy and Smith were excellent in the first half, as were Digby & Ironside. In the second portion of the game Janneh put in a good shift, but we’ll give the award to those working in the club shop and ticket office without any air-conditioning.

Soundtrack of the Match: Hot Hot Heat – Oh Goddamnit

One thought on “U’s 1-3 Norwich Friendly Thoughts

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  1. I’m willing to bet good money that the least likely scoreline we’ll produce again this season is 0-0.

    We’ve looked good going forward in each of the friendlies but at times you wonder about the ability to keep the door bolted at the back.

    I don’t think 4-2-3-1 has given us the defensive stability that it’s surely designed to.

    We look capable of being more of an attacking threat this season. I hope that from Jones, Rossi and Okebdina we can find a solid CB pairing. I suspect it might prove to be Jones and Rossi. Also that the deep lying midfielders Digby an AN other can protect the back four more consistently. Simper looks like making a claim to partner Digby. That could mean a lack of game time for O’Neil, May, Worman and Lankester, although it represents depth in midfield options.

    Need to cut out crosses at source better, that’s been a theme of pre-season so far.

    Hopefully we’ll carry more threat from attacking set pieces those season.

    I’m looking forward to Bennett coming back from Walsall, maybe in Jan and giving Williams real competition at RB.

    I think we’ve got enough to suggest that another season of survival is a realistic aim. Potential in an attacking sense and also defensively but a little concern that we need to tighten up in defence and defensive midfield.


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